|JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore are ready to contribute||06.27.11 at 2:35 pm ET|
The Celtics introduced their newest players — JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore — to the media at Edison school in Brighton on Monday and if first impressions count for anything both players came across as engaging and mature. That’s to be expected of a pair of four-year college players, both of whom earned degrees at Purdue.
Education was the theme of the day as Johnson and Moore were on hand to dedicate a new mobile computer lab through the Celtics Shamrock Foundation with 25 new Mac’s for the kids in the K-8 public school. With their parents in attendance, Johnson and Moore mixed easily with the kids.
Both acknowledged that it was a strange but pleasant coincidence that they would wind up on the same team in the NBA. That process didn’t begin on draft night. It started when both players decided to return for their senior seasons after going through the draft evaluation last year.
The extra year in school wasn’t wasted as Johnson increased his scoring average from 15.5 to 20.5 points per game and was named Big 10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Moore also raised his scoring average for the fourth straight season with the Boilerrmakers and shot 40 percent from the college 3-point line.
“These guys have both improved a lot over the course of their college careers,” team president Danny Ainge said. “They’ve played a lot of big games in a lot of hostile environments. I think that can only help.”
The knock on Johnson is that he’s thin and he acknowledged that he wants to add to his 220 pounds in the weight room and with a nutritional program. The negative for Moore is that at 6-foot-4 (in shoes) he may be too small to matchup with NBA 2-guards and he rarely played the point at Purdue. Johnson said that he sees himself as a four-man — as do the Celtics. Moore described himself as a combo guard and said he knew he had to be prepared to handle any backcourt assignment.
The NBA is filled with undersized, or oddly sized, players and each player brings something different to the equation for the Celtics who are trying to add pieces that can help this season, as well as in the future.
“I can run the floor, rebound, defend and be able to knock down that 15-18 foot shot pretty consistently,” Johnson said. “That’s what I can bring to the team.”
Moore was an accomplished scorer at Purdue and had a memorable game against Ohio State when he scored 38 points and knocked down seven 3-pointers. Johnson noted that in college Moore was the player the other Boilermakers counted on to make a big shot.
Their roles are reversed now as the pressure will be on Johnson to provide some interior help and athleticism to a frontline that can use both. Moore will have a chance to earn a roster spot and he may have competition. The Celtics brought University of Pittsburgh guard Gilbert Brown in to get acclimated with the facilities.
Brown told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Ainge was in contact with him after the draft and compared his situation to Wes Matthews, an undrafted free agent out of Marquette who has already carved out a niche in the NBA, as well as a five-year $32 million contract from the Blazers. The Celtics can’t sign undrafted free agents — or free agents of any kind — until July 1 and if there is a lockout Brown told the paper he was likely to play in Germany.
On a team with so many open positions and a determination to get younger, more athletic and affordable there’s a decent chance that both Moore and Brown could find their way on to the Celtics roster. Ainge told WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan last week that he did not intend to mess with the team’s cap space after the 2012 season when they will be way below the cap, regardless of whatever system is in place in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
That’s why this draft was so important for the Celtics. They want to remain competitive for a championship this season, while also laying the foundation for the future. Ainge told D & C that one more year with the big three was realistic, but two was probably asking too much. With Johnson, Moore, possibly Brown and last year’s first round pick Avery Bradley vying for playing time, the Celtics will have not only youth, but experienced youth to try and alter the dynamic of the team.
Johnson will wear No. 12 as a tribute to his mother, Rhonda Curlin. That was her number in high school. Moore will wear No. 55. He said he was a fan of Jason “White Chocolate” Williams growing up.
Johnson said he was looking forward to learning from Kevin Garnett. “If he tells me something I’ll definitely do my best to execute what he’s saying,” Johnson said. “I don’t want him to shut me down. I want to learn as much as I can from him.”
Ainge said the team would extend a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Jeff Green before the deadline as expected.
One area Ainge wouldn’t address was any potential free agent plans. Anything and everything related to the new CBA has been off-limits in keeping with NBA policy.
|Impromptu Irish Coffee: Celtics awesome at high-fiving||06.10.11 at 9:59 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
With only Northeastern product J.J. Barea‘s role in the demise of the Heat left for Boston NBA fans to root for, I’m not sure the news that the Celtics were the best team in the league at touching each other is any consolation.
But a recent study by researchers at the University of California indicated that the C’s are not only among the league’s elite in skill but also in chemistry, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The study analyzed the number of times NBA teammates touched each other, and the Celtics are some of the best high-fivers in the league.
After reviewing broadcasts of games from the 2008-09 season, they concluded that good teams tend to be much more hands-on than bad ones. Teams whose players touched the most often were more cooperative, played better and won more games, they said.
While there’s no evidence that an NBA team can touch its way to victory, the two touchiest teams in the study, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, finished the season with two of the NBA’s top three records.
So, where do they hang the banner: 2008-09 NBA Touchy-Feely Champions? Or is it a trophy of two players in a James Posey–Paul Pierce-like embrace? Does this make Brian Scalabrine Hall of Fame eligible as one of the great high-fivers in league history? So many questions.
And obviously Danny Ainge cost the Celtics another high-five title by trading Kendrick Perkins.
|Wyc Grousbeck on D&C: ‘I want Miami to lose so badly’||05.25.11 at 9:56 am ET|
Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning during a charity benefit for the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
After the Celtics lost to the Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Grousbeck was asked if he is still watching the playoffs. “I am watching this year because I want Miami to lose so badly,” he said, adding “I’m rooting hard against the Heat.”
Grousbeck said he will be rooting for the Mavericks the rest of the way because of his relationship with Mavs owner Mark Cuban. Said Grousbeck: “I love the guy. … He’s just a good guy. He genuinely roots for us against other teams. He is a Celtics fan when he’s not a Mavs fan. And we’re going to return the favor.”
Grousbeck did give the Heat credit. “I thought they outplayed us in the series,” he said. “They had more juice. They had more pop. I can’t really deny that. I would have loved to take that Monday night game in Boston and make it 2-2 and see what happened. I think we might have won the thing. But I don’t really regret with like a huge missed chance. I’m just annoyed we didn’t beat them.”
When asked about the trade of Kendrick Perkins, Grousbeck said he felt Perkins was not the difference in losing to the Heat. “I love Perk, but I don’t think our issue was guarding their 5 spot,” he said. “Our issue was guarding their 2, 3 and 4. So, not only did we need Jeff Green, we needed about three more of him.”
Grousbeck played down the chemistry factor. “We had gotten that far in the season without Perk. He hadn’t played essentially the entire season,” Grousbeck said. “So, we were starting the games with [Shaquille O’Neal] and finishing the games with [Glen Davis]. And that would have continued in the playoffs if Perk was there. So, Perk wouldn’t have been starting if Shaq had been healthy.
“Where the plan fell short is Shaq not being able to come back; we thought he could.”
|Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘I just thought it was time to show’ loyalty||05.16.11 at 10:37 am ET|
Rivers said that rumors he was contemplating whether to take a sabbatical from coaching so that he could spend more time with his family weren’t accurate ‘ at least not this year.
“Last year, they were probably more right,” he said. “Last year I was absolutely leaning that way. This year I really never was. After last year’s summer and going through the decision that we went through, I was pretty sure I was coming back and I was pretty sure I wanted to come back here.
“This is a special place. And I’ve said that before. You can’t get a lot of these jobs where you coach teams like the Celtics, or the Red Sox, or the Yankees, and I have one of them. I work with a great GM in Danny Ainge and I have good ownership. So, why change?”
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Doc, if you don’t mind revealing this, whose idea was it for the longterm contract? Was it you that wanted the extra years, or did Danny want to lock you up for the extra years? Whose idea was it?
Danny brought it up to me. When he first brought it up, I was surprised by it. This was a while ago that he brought it up. I think actually he brought up even more years to start.
I never thought of it in those terms. Because we kept doing these one-year or two-year deals, and I never thought of it. Danny walked in my office and said, “Listen, I want you to be here with me for a long time. And I want to make this something where we’re together for a long time.” And so he brought up the number of years.
You’ve got to process that when you commit to something for that long. We did, and we thought it was the right thing to do.
|Danny Ainge: ‘We could be up 3-2 in this series’||05.12.11 at 6:00 pm ET|
Following his team’s disappointing Eastern Conference semifinals loss to the Heat in five games, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made his final weekly appearance of the season on The Big Show. Already working on the draft, Ainge pretty much touched on everything, so here’s a quick rundown of the hot stove topics (for audio of the complete interview, click here).
On the Heat: “I’m a little frustrated. Without taking credit away from the Heat — and they made tough shots and big plays when they needed to — we could be up 3-2 in this series. …
“They’re the team that we’re going to have to compete with for the next six or seven years — maybe longer.”
On Rajon Rondo’s injury: “That was a huge factor. We were playing without one of our key guys — if not the most important guy. I give Rondo a lot of credit for doing all he could to get ready to play, but he had some back issues as well. That made it extremely difficult for us.”
On coach Doc Rivers‘ future: “I think Doc is coming back. We talk all the time, and I got that impression a few weeks ago. I think we’ll get something done, and we could get something done very shortly on a long-term contract.”
More on the long-term possibility: “I think it’s the wrong assumption about Doc that he would just want to be here with these guys. He’s a coach at heart. He likes being in Boston. We have a great relationship. We work together as an organization, and we like each other. He’s a coach, and he’s a teacher. I think he likes the idea of being a Jerry Sloan-type, being with one team for a long time. I think we could sign him to a long-term contract.”
On the Big Three’s future: “I think there’s a lot of basketball left in them, but Father Time always loses. Their days of carrying a team night in and night out might be over, but their ability to still contribute to a championship team is still there.”
On the collective bargaining agreement: “We need to figure out the rules we’re all playing under. Once we figure that out, we can start coming up with answers.”
On potentially trading the Big Three: “I would have to look into that if a good trade came about.”
On potentially training Rondo: “Probably not. I can never say never, but that’s not our plan right now. Absolutely not.”
On the Kendrick Perkins trade: “I don’t believe that the trade was the reason we are done today. Our offense failed us in the last few games. Our defense was terrific. We were missing shots 10 feet from the pin, and they were making them from the sand trap. I think the injuries to Rajon and even Delonte West were more of a factor. … Read the rest of this entry »
|Wyc Grousbeck on M&M: Kendrick Perkins ‘was going to walk’||04.29.11 at 1:11 pm ET|
Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck stopped by for a visit with the Mut & Merloni show Friday afternoon as the C’s prepare for their second-round series against the Heat. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Grousbeck discussed the trade with the Thunder that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City. “We’re not here to trash Perk,” Grousbeck said. “What we’re here to say is, We needed, obviously, a backup for Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen]. This series will show, somebody needs to come in with quality ‘ Jeff Green ‘ and step up. And that’s how, hopefully, we can give these guys a fight.”
Added Grousbeck: “We love Perk. We miss him, no question. But we didn’t need another center as much as we needed someone to back up Paul and Ray. That’s the theory of the trade. We’ll see how it works out.”
Regarding Perkins’ contract issues, Grousbeck said: “Perk was going to walk at the end of June. That was clear. We offered him everything we could, and it wasn’t enough.”
Grousbeck insisted the trade is as much about this season as the years ahead. Said Grousbeck: “It’s also a trade for the future. But our principal idea is, Improve for this year if we can, and what are the pros and cons. And you back Danny [Ainge]. Danny’s got us to the championship, and I’m right there with him. The rest of us are all right there with him.”
|Glen Davis: ‘We’re way deeper than [Miami]’||04.27.11 at 1:43 pm ET|
As the Celtics returned to practice on Wednesday they still don’t know who their next playoff opponent will be, but that gives them a chance to focus on what has been their toughest adversary at times this season: themselves.
“I’ve told you all year our opponent has been us, so we get a chance to work on our stuff,” Doc Rivers said. “[This week is] very similar to training camp. When you start camp you really don’t have an opponent.”
That said, they clearly have an eye on Miami, who has a chance to close out its first round playoff series with Philadelphia on Wednesday night. As long as there’s not a Game 7 in that series, the Celtics will be in Miami for Game 1 on Sunday.
In the interim, their focus will be on what they do, especially their reserves. Glen Davis, for one, isn’t lacking any confidence.
“I feel like our bench is way stronger than theirs,” Davis said. “We’re way deeper than them. We just have to make sure we use our depth.”
The Heat have primarily used three reserves in their first round series with Philadelphia — Joel Anthony, Mario Chalmers and James Jones — but they may get a boost if Udonis Haslem is able to return from foot surgery that has kept him out since late November. An ineffective Mike Miller has fallen out of the rotation.
The Celtics may be deeper on paper, but their second unit didn’t exactly distinguish itself in their series with the Knicks except for a strong showing in the first half of Game 4. Rivers feels like he has gained some insight from that series, however.
“We knew what the starters could do,” Rivers said. “We weren’t sure what the fifth guy with the starters could do and you had no idea going into a playoff series what your bench, not only what they were going to give you, but what worked for them. As the playoffs went on we kind of figured out more and more what they’re comfortable with, what they can’t run more than what they can run.”
Despite their struggles, Rivers was encouraged by some of what he saw in New York, particularly on the block. “The one thing they do well is post,” Rivers said. “That second group is a great post group. Jeff Green, Delonte [West] and Baby, so we have to try to run a package more suited to them.”
The Celtics don’t incorporate a lot of post-ups in their offense, mainly because they haven’t had a reliable presence on the block since Shaquille O’Neal got hurt. Green got more work on the block in New York and for a second unit that sometimes struggled to run a functioning offense that would be a positive development.
Rivers also hinted at a bigger role for Green in the next round. “The other fifth guy [with the starters] is Jeff Green,” Rivers said. “That may be our biggest plus of all the groups, but we just haven’t used it a lot.”
SHAQ UPDATE: O’Neal didn’t practice on Wednesday and he won’t practice Thursday either. The Celtics are targeting Friday as a possible date, but as with all things Shaq, that is subject to change. “We hope he practices [Friday],” Rivers said. “But we don’t know that. We’ll see.”
Everyone else was on the floor at the start of practice, which was closed to the press.
STAYING IN RHYTHM: Everyone knows the Celtics play better with rest, but is there such a thing as too much? Assuming they play again on Sunday that would be a full week between games for the Celtics. They were 1-3 in the playoffs last season with three or more days between games.
“There’s nothing you can do about it,” Rivers said. “It’s not like we can say, ‘Hey listen we want to start now,’ so let’s take advantage of what we have.”
Rivers called this week a mini training camp, but there’s no doubt they don’t want to stray too far from what made them successful against the Knicks, especially the last two games offensively. “When we run our stuff right defensively and offensively we tend to not turn the ball over and we tend to rebound better,” Rivers said.
RUN RONDO RUN: While no one would come out and say it before the series becomes official, Rajon Rondo will be one of the most scrutinized players in a showdown series with the Heat. He is the one obvious advantage the Celtics have from a personnel standpoint. He showed in the Knicks series that he can kick it up a gear and play with the kind of speed the Celtics need from him.
“It’s night and day when you see it,” Ray Allen said. “When he’s out there and he’s going and he’s got the energy, he doesn’t care whether you make a shot or not, he’s still having an impact on both ends of the floor. He’s on us about running the floor. I’m thinking I’m running, but let me run a little bit harder.”
Still, the Celtics emphasized that all four of their star players are tied together.
“Rondo’s key for us but all of them are,” Rivers said. “If Rondo’s playing well and Ray is not playing well then we struggle. If Ray is playing well and Paul [Pierce] or Kevin [Garnett] struggle then we struggle. It’s not just one guy. This really is a team that is pretty much tied together and each guy has to carry his own load.”
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